With the music sections taking place, the third day was a good chance to speak with the dancers involved in more detail and talk about the space we were using and how they would move around us or with us. We showed them where we would be sitting and they marked these spots with tape. Then, because much of the piece is shaped my cues, we also had to show the dancers where we’d be looking so that they wouldn’t get in the way and avoid us missing a vital cue. With this information, they then marked tape where they could stand.
We played through a few sections and the dancers danced in the space. I was really impressed with their knowledge of the piece and in a short time, they’d already learned the different sections so they knew when to change. There were different themes for different sections and when we had a chance to see it in our peripheral, it really did look stunning. Contemporary dance is often misunderstood as it doesn’t have a specific beat or universally accepted moves but if you delve into it or watch it without reserve, you’ll see how beautiful it is and you’ll also see ‘dance moves’ as it were.
We also talked about the space and whether the heavy black curtains would be shut to give a clean back drop and what colours we would all wear. The dancers were keen that we all wear the same colour palette as they didn’t want it to look like it was musicians vs dancers, they wanted us to look like one troop. We opted for earthy colours rather than all black so there was a contrast against the black curtained walls. It was lovely to think about the visuals in such detail as it’s something we often overlook in music. Creating a visual compatible with the music is something singers do try to pay attention to, but often a pretty dress will override a trouser suit for a mezzo in a trouser role (a woman singing a man’s role). We were asked to wear these colours on the fourth day.
The day before the performance was quite a quick rehearsal because we’d ironed out most of the problems in the piece. Though some of us, obviously including me, had struggled with counting some of the rhythms. You’d be looking out for a cue such as a vibraphone playing or a clarinet riff and you’d have to increase the length of the two notes you were alternating between. It was great practise for me, theory wise and added an extra challenge to my Colab journey.
We all looked great with our earthy colours of burgundy, grey and greens and we got to see the dancers in action. There was one section where they all gather in the middle of the open space and move as one. They all leaned over one another’s shoulders and it looked beautiful, I couldn’t stop watching.